In a blue-collar neighborhood right outside of Detroit, James Rigato converted a 1,600-square-foot, cinder-block diner into Hazel Park’s first chef-driven restaurant. “I want the food and beverage and service to be serious, but that’s where it ends,” says the Mabel Gray chef-owner. “I want [guests] to be comfortable.” Since opening in September, Rigato says diners are thanking him for a new option in a town on the brink of a renaissance. “When there’s no restaurant like you, that’s the reason to do it,” he says.
In full view
The kitchen takes up a full 40 percent of the space, and Rigato avoided compromising the view with seats. “People want access to the chef nowadays,” he says. “You can be anywhere in the restaurant and see the food going out.”
A nod to the area, chairs are refurbished from Detroit schools